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About the investigationThis investigation aims to answer the question: will biofuels contribute to boost development and to fight global warming, or do they merely represent a new form of North-South energy colonization? The EU is pursuing the goal of replacing 10% of its oil consumption with renewable fuels by 2020. The U.S. wants to reach the threshold of 15% by 2017. These ambitious blending targets were set in order to reduce both greenhouse gas emissions and energy dependence by replacing conventional fossil fuels with fuels produced from vegetable feedstocks: namely, bioethanol (for gasoline blending) and biodiesel (for diesel blending). However, those targets will also increase the global demand for biofuels. Since rich countries run out of land to grow enough feedstocks, they will need to import large volumes of vegetable oil from developing countries where under-used arable areas are widely available. This will potentially ensure steady profits for those who invest in this new business. However, experts analysis and experiences from the field show a controversial scenario: biofuels may bring either benefits or disadvantages to local communities and the environment depending on how and where they are produced and distributed.
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